Why we all need to stop travelling to the same places

‘Over-tourism’ is a word you’ve probably heard thrown around recently. Many popular destinations around the globe are struggling to cope with an influx of tourists, yet we keep visiting the same places. It’s time to step off the beaten path and discover more of the world. We need to stop booking trips based on where our favourite Instagram influencers are flocking to and start thinking for ourselves.

Iceland, Barcelona, Venice, Dubrovnik, Santorini. All destinations that don’t need any more tourists. The local infrastructures can’t cope with the sheer volume of visitors and the local ecosystems are in danger thanks to tourists wandering on protected ground or not respecting the environment. People are priced out of their homes as local neighbourhoods are gentrified and more and more holiday apartments open. Yet if you scroll through Instagram, you’ll find post after post recommending these destinations, tempting visitors with pretty pictures. It isn’t just the obvious tourist hot spots that are struggling though – Machu Picchu is inundated with day visitors and we’ve all seen that harrowing image of climbers queuing up to summit Everest. 

Something needs to change. We need to be more vigilant with how we select the places we visit. Rather than feeling inspired and simply booking a flight, we need to do a little research into whether that destination is currently welcoming tourists. There are so many different places, all around the globe, so why are we all visiting the same ones?

Photos by Andrea Swarz

If you really want to visit someplace that is oversaturated with visitors, think about when you visit and where you will stay. Cruise ships are a huge problem, as hundreds or even thousands of day trippers disembark every day, crowding streets and beaches without actually investing in the local economy. If you stay in a hotel owned by locals or eat in a local restaurant, you’re doing less harm than the people who just pass straight through with their selfie sticks. You could also choose to visit outside of peak seasons, or head to areas that are less frequented by tourists.

Of course, you could just choose someplace else. Not only will your conscience be more relaxed that you aren’t contributing to over-tourism, but you’ll be rewarded with less crowds, probably lower prices, and the sense that you’re making your own memories rather than imitating other peoples. Take Europe for example. During the summer months, visitors flock to the Mediterranean in search of balmy temperatures and azure seas. It doesn’t take much planning to decide to visit Formentera instead of Ibiza or Comporta instead of Faro. 

Think about the reasons why you travel? If it’s to take photographs, head someplace different so yours stand out from the crowd. If it’s to relax, travel someplace less touristy so you can enjoy a beach all to yourself. If it’s to surround yourself with culture, take a trip someplace where you won’t have to queue to enter a gallery. Whatever the reason why you travel, stepping off the beaten track will be more enjoyable.

Consider why you want to visit a certain place. Is it because you want to explore or that you know it’s the perfect place for the type of holiday you’re seeking. Or do you simply want to snap the same photo as everyone else and move on? Your travels should be about creating memories, not just racking up the likes on social media. Visit the destinations that truly interest you, not those that you think you should be visiting to keep up with the trends.